Local, alternative perspective. Insightful stories for the Santa Clara Valley.




Over the years, San Jose has built “sparygrounds” in 23 various neighborhood parks, some of which have more than one of these “fun, heavy aerated, water formations” at what is otherwise a traditional children’s playground area.   Nineteen of these parks have 1 spayground area, whereas four of such parks have two of these types of spayrgounds.   Altogether, this means that San Jose has built 27 spraygrounds over the years.  But, now, as of the 2014 California drought emergency and severe conditions within the Santa Clara Valley Water District, all of these spraygrounds have since been shut-off and left for dry.

The city describes these features, saying that “spraygrounds” are designed for splash pad areas with no standing water to limited water depths. Patrons can interact with multiple spray displays by plugging individual sprays, causing remaining sprays to shoot higher.”

A visit to Willow Glen’s Lincoln Glen Park, earlier during this week 15 July 2015, showed that the water features are indeed turned off.  Large expanses of lawn seem to be doing alright, except for a few brown patches.  Parents were watching their children romper around the playground, less the water fountain features.   This park is situated along the backside of Willow Glen Community Center, bordered by Curtner and Radio Avenue, while being offset from Lincoln Avenue. From the community center at Lincoln Avenue, there’s ample parking that opens to the park and a good-sized grass field.  The park is about 0.2 acres.


Park Water Features for Children

Park Name

How Many

Almaden Lake Park


Southside of the park
Bestor Art Park


Bestor / 6th Street
Butcher Park


Camden Ave / Lancaster Dr
Capitol Park


Peter Pan Way / Bambi Lane
Carrabelle Park 1 Camden Ave / Villagewood Way
Cataldi Park 1 Cataldi Dr / Morrill
Cimarron Park 1 Pride St / Orange St
Erikson Park 1 Pearl Ave / Branham Lane
Huerta Park 1 Hillsdale / Ross
La ColinaPark 1 Lean / Allegan Circle
Lincoln Glen Park 2 Radio / Curtner Ave
Martin Park 1 Melbourne /Jeanne
McEnery Park 2 San Fernando / Almaden Blvd
McLaughlin Park 1 McLaughlin / Clemence
Noble Park 1 Noble / Collette
Parma Park 2 Camden Ave / Bose Lane
Rainbow Park 2 Rainbow Ave / Donington Dr
Rosemary Garden Park 1 Sonora Ave / Santa Paula
Roy Avenue Park 1 Roy Ave / Spadafore Ave
San Tomas Park 1 Fenian Dr / Valerie Dr
T.J. Martin 1 Burchell / The Strand
Thousand Oaks Park 1 Thousand Oaks / Downswick
Townsend Park 1 Townsend Ave / Townsend Circle



Just recently, de·Anza Post reported on the affects of the drought to city and county public trail areas (such as those along Los Gatos Creek); which is aside from improvements at other sites like that of Willow Street Park (also in the same neighborhood of San Jose).

Contrast these neighborhood city parks with the likes of San Jose’s Lake Cunningham Regional Park, which comprises 203 acres of open space; thereof, including a 50 acre lake with a marina, plus “Raging Waters” theme park.

There is a plaque at the Velma Million Marina area of Lake Cunningham, there for its inaugural dedication years ago in 1982; however, since then, this recreational area currently does not seem to meet what was envisioned more than 30 years ago.  It’s also an obvious contrast from the smaller neighborhood parks, which have their own issues and usually serve a set of different public needs.

Out at Lake Cunningham Park and Velma Million Marina, the contrast is between the public recreation areas that are controlled by the city and that of Raging Waters Theme Park, which is a private enterprise operating within a public domain.  Realizing these differences in relationship is revealing.

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Raging Waters is a private company with three of such water themed parks in the state of California, including: San Jose, Sacramento and San Dimas.  They call themselves “California’s Water Parks.”  San Jose’s Raging Waters is a unique situation, wherein a private theme park makes its self ever apparent from the far sides of a vast public area, located here at San Jose’s far-east side of the city.  On a city map, Lake Cunningham Park compares in size with Kelly Park or Oak Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park.  Another comparison would be golf courses, like Los Lagos.

On a summer July day, from anywhere throughout greater Lake Cunningham, blasting music from Raging Waters can be heard; whereas that noise follows you everywhere through the otherwise quite and relatively unused lot of it.

Walking through Lake Cunningham Park its hard not to notice the vast unused areas in what seems like a park that has become blighted and poorly managed.  There’s one huge parking lot after another, as if parking cars is a recreation unto itself.  In other words, parking space is another consideration from within what is supposed “green space.”   At that, the parking is mostly unused on this common summer weekday.  And it all seems to go without purpose, just acres of open black-top with painted parking spaces, row after row.   Indeed, driving across the city and this neighborhood to the park itself is a bit of a detour from central San Jose; that is, aside from navigating across its back parking areas to find that recreational wonderland.

Then, once finding the great lawns, its realized that they are mostly browning and, in many large areas, just degrading into weeds and dirt.  Picnic areas with gazebos dot the expanse of the so-called green space, but in this urban ecology, it seems rather eerie and uninviting.  There’s a big lake here, but the lawns are deteriorating around it, as if dryness has taken over.  At that, it must be a huge maintenance issue.  Even if the city was to water and manage the laws with great care, how much water would it entail?

In the open spaces, a few people appear here and there, but it’s questionable if it’s for recreation or loitering.

Thinking about going to the Marina area — at the opposite end of the park — it all seems designed with the idea of driving a car, not walking by foot or trekking by bicycle.

Arriving at Velma Million Marina, its easy to see the city’s vision from years ago; but, that’s clearly over shadowed by the blighted conditions that are evident while walking out to its pier.

The investment for parks and recreation was made here years ago, but all those resources, amenities and infrastructure seem to be depreciating quickly.   Rental boats remain locked-up, while also remaining un-used and unclean.  In fact, many of them are just piled up and being subjected to the effects of weather, aside from years of other wear-and-tear.  Some boats are actually left to sink into the water, as if abandoned and neglected.

To make matters worse, all along the pier was the site of excessive bird droppings, splattered onto weathered plank boards, railings and other infrastructure.  This is not just a little bird excrement, but a lot…  all across the walkway, railings and even down on the boat docking areas.    There’s nobody here, and it looks as if nobody cares to manage the boats, aside from cleaning-up the site, so as to make sanitary and inviting.  It’s gotten to the point that such conditions discourage use, aside from wanting to reclaim it.  Indeed, walking back up to the lawn area that surrounds the the Marina entrance, more fecal matter from birds and other wildlife dominate this area, too.  Overall, it’s as if human recreation is not the norm here, during many hours of the days.

While at the far end of the park, the sound of gyrating music from Raging Waters still lingers, as if in stark contrast from the cast-away areas of this decrepit marina.  Aside from blasting music, frolicking screams can be heard from the theme park, therein overshadowing everything else.

While drought and budget conditions within the city seem to be impacting the rest of Lake Cunningham, aside from the neighborhood parks; still, Raging Waters seems to be going full-flow, as if there’s no water shortage.

Driving across to yet another end of the park, here at the Raging Waters theme park, water pours, flows and cascades with abandon.   Visitors have their merriment.  Just beyond the gates of this oasis, the realities of an outside world are suspended.  It’s as if reality of the outside world were to “take a rain check,” oddly enough.

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